Definition - What does Gynecomastia mean?

Gynecomastia refers to abnormal breast enlargement in males. The breast enlargement is the result of the swelling of the breast gland tissue which can, but doesn't have to, be present in both breasts. The condition is the result of the hormonal imbalance between estrogen and testosterone, which usually appears during puberty or in old age. Depending on the causes of the condition, gynecomastia can potentially be treated by the regulation of the hormonal imbalance in the body. A common treatment is undergoing breast reduction surgery.

TheConsultation explains Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia, or the abnormal male breast enlargement, isn't to be confused with lipomastia, which is the presence of excess fat in the breasts of obese men. Widely known as “fatty breasts”, the large breasts in overweight males are fat deposits, not glands. Gynecomastia, on the other hand, is the enlargement of breast glands themselves, and is the result of hormonal imbalance between estrogen and testosterone, in which case estrogen prevails. The symptoms of gynecomastia are swollen breast gland tissue, breast tenderness, pain and nipple discharge.

The decrease in the production of testosterone can be caused by natural hormone changes which occur during puberty and old age. However, hormonal changes are often the result of certain health conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, tumors of the lungs, pituitary gland or adrenal glands, kidney failure, liver disease, and malnutrition. It can also be a side effect of medication intake, for example certain antibiotics, anti-ulcer drugs, estrogen therapies for prostate cancer and anti-depressants. The condition can also be triggered by alcohol abuse, as well as by drug abuse – concretely amphetamines, heroin and methadone.

Gynecomastia in infants and teenagers, a result of natural hormonal fluctuations common for these ages, subsides naturally during the time span between six months and two years. Natural gynecomastia in men, which is a result of aging, usually occurs after the age of 50 and is most likely permanent. Gynecomastia results from medication intake or other illnesses and can be cured with the intake of hormones to regain hormonal balance. A surgical procedure that treats gynecomastia is breast reduction surgery – although the surgery is merely for aesthetic purposes.

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